Retired UMBC academic adviser Paula O. Ashby died in her home following a battle with cancer on Feb. 9. Ashby was known for her willingness to help graduating students with their essays and resumes as they sought employment.
In addition to these standard affairs, she also held workshops to guide seniors through the graduate school application process.
Paula Ashby was so dedicated to helping students get into graduate school that she once told the Washington Post “[she] carried a book of stamps with [her] and walked around asking, ‘Does anyone need a stamp?'” to ensure that students would always have their applications submitted on-time.
According to current UMBC academic adviser Erika Thompson, advising was the “perfect career” for an individual as caring as Ashby. Thompson went on to say, “A good adviser just tells you to do this and that, while a great adviser really cares; she was a great adviser.” Advising was only one of many efforts Ashby will be remembered by, given her diverse contributions to both UMBC as well as the surrounding community.
From 1989 to 1997, Ashby functioned as the leader of the Meyerhoff Scholarship program, telling the Washington Post in 1993 that “So far we have a 100 percent success rate, That is what we’re striving for.” Thompson spoke of Ashby’s work with students of Cristo Rey Highschool, recalling one specific student who would have been unable to afford graduation photos or a tuxedo for prom were if not for Ashby efforts to provide him with the items.
In a recent article by the Baltimore Sun, Ken Baron, assistant vice provost for academic advising at UMBC, told of the skill with which Ashby would go to in pursuit of helping those around her.
Baron told the Sun that, “Paula really was the queen of orientation. She was very friendly and kind and embodied the humanistic approach.” UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski also spoke to the Sun about the advisor, “Paula represented the best of us,” as he thanked her for “helping us put UMBC on the map.” Habrowski’s comments seem to echo Thompson’s own sentiments of how Ashby “always helped not just students, but everyone.”
Paula O. Ashby graduated from UMBC cum laude in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She was an individual known to love her family, students and the city of Baltimore.